NKY native found dead in Red River Gorge
SLADE, Ky. (WKYT/FOX19) - An Alexandria native who was attending the University of Kentucky died following a hiking incident in the Red River Gorge.
Powell County Search and Rescue says 24-year-old Gabriella Smith went hiking in the Auxier Ridge area on Monday. When she didn’t return home, search teams were contacted.
Smith’s body was found at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff.
She was a second-year medical student at UK from Alexandria, a university spokesperson confirmed.
Smith’s mother says she was familiar with the trail as she hiked it only weeks earlier and returned for one more hike to break in her new boots for an upcoming trip out west to hike with friends.
“She was not a reckless person. We truly feel this was a tragic accident,” Kerensa Smith said.
Lisa Johnson with Powell County Search and Rescue says they’ve helped look for three hikers who fell in the gorge over the past week.
Johnson says all hikers should take extra precautions at Red River Gorge because several days of heavy off and on rain have made the trails extremely dangerous.
“You have trees that are coming down right now, limbs that are falling, the mud you slide in the mud on the trails and if you’re on the rocks, you’re going to slide, you’re going to slip and what I try to tell people is stay away from the edge,” Johnson said.
She says while their team will always answer any call for help, wet conditions make it difficult for rescuers to reach stranded and lost hikers.
Even in dry and perfect hiking conditions, Johnson wants all hikers, new or more experienced, to always be prepared and know your trail before you hit the gorge.
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